NEW YORK—The Golden Horseshoe, 1886, a trompe l’oeil oil painting by William Harnett, was the top seller at Shannon’s Oct. 28 sale of American and European art. The canvas sold for $552,000, just exceeding the $300,000/500,000 estimate. The artwork was consigned from an unidentified corporate collection and sold to a private American collector, according to Gene Shannon, president of the Milford, Conn., auction house.
Other strong prices were achieved for such works as Andrew Wyeth’s watercolor Bird Bath, 1994, which sold for $228,000 on an estimate of $200,000/300,000, and Eastman Johnson’s painting The Card Players, 1853, which sold for $168,000 on an estimate of $30,000/50,000. Jasper Francis Cropsey’s On the Susquehanna River, 1891, sold for $120,000 against an estimate of $60,000/80,000, and Alexander Helwig Wyant’s Hudson River View, 1868, fetched $96,000 against an estimate of $40,000/60,000. The Wyant painting had been sold at Sotheby’s in 2007 for $84,000 on a $70,000/90,000 estimate. Both the Johnson and Wyant paintings came from the same corporate consignor as the Harnett.
John White Alexander’s Jesse Steele, Reading, ca. 1898, sold for $78,000, at the top of the estimate of $50,000/75,000, and Skaters Near a Windmill, n.d., by Belgian painter Charles Henri Leickert (1818–1907), sold for $90,000 against a $75,000/100,000 estimate. An untitled abstract oil, n.d., by Rolph Scarlett (1889–1984) sold for $84,000, more than double the estimate of $25,000/35,000 and a new auction record for the artist. The previous high for a work by Scarlett was $78,000, paid for Abstraction at Shannon’s in 2009 (estimate: $15,000/25,000).
Some prices went far above estimates, as did that of David Burliuk’s oil Moscow River, 1956, which had an estimate of $7,000/10,000 and sold for $31,200. Vietnamese painter Le Pho’s undated oil Two Women with Chrysanthemums sold for $39,360, well above the $10,000/15,000 estimate.
The sale yielded a total of $3.7 million, within the overall estimate of $3.4 million/4.2 million, and 199, or 70 percent, of the 276 lots offered in the sale found buyers. Among the buy-ins were Dutch painter Kees van Dongen’s Vase de chrysanthèmes devant une vue de Montmartre, 1920 (estimate: $200,000/300,000), John Twachtman’s Landscape, Connecticut, ca. 1894 (estimate: $125,000/175,000), Max Weber’s Music, n.d., (estimate: $70,000/100,000), and Sanford Gifford’s Near Genoa, 1858 (estimate: $60,000/80,000), as well as a number of other works in the $30,000/50,000 range.
Shannon noted that finding the correct estimates has become much more difficult since the beginning of the economic downturn in 2008.